|ModiNomics: Delivers Victoy|
“This is Narendra Modi,” said the voice on my handphone. It was 12:30, 15 February 2014 and I was all set to receive Modi Ji to release of my book ModiNomics at 14:30 hours, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
“You have worked very hard and struggled to put this book together. Unfortunately, I cannot make it from Gandhinagar. I have requested Jaitley Ji to release the book instead. My best wishes are with you,” Modi Ji added.
This remains the only book on his economic thinking that came endorsed by him, which is based on my direct interactions as well as my study of the Gujarat Model spanning over a decade.
ModiNomics is about how he had his finger on the pulse of felt-needs of the people of Gujarat and how, through out-of-the-box thinking, he was able to deliver to these. Whether it was Panchayati Raj, agricultural revival, electricity, water supply, infrastructure, IT or education, through an effective mix of common sense, a bottoms-up approach to problems and a very effective bureaucracy, he was able to deliver the wonder that was the Gujarat Model.
I next met him a week later in Gandhinagar at a public function. He waved from the stage and joined me to formally receive a copy of ModiNomics and a brief chat. I told him that I believe him certainly to be the next Prime Minister.
His economic team remained his Achilles heel through his first term. On 15 May 2014 at 11:43 hrs Modi Ji tweeted ‘India has won! Acche din aane wale hain’. Had Raghuram Rajan followed up with a 50 bps rate cut, economic growth story of India by now would have been spectacular. His attitude of ‘inflation should be close to zero and growth be damned’ perhaps caused maximum damage to the Indian economy. ‘Imported’ economists like Arvind Subramanian and Arvind Panagariya remained divorced from the Indian realities. With Rajan, Urijit and Nachiket, RBI became an American frat. There was a late realisation on talent in Economic Advisory Council. NITI Aayog was rudderless for a very long time. It was Modi Ji’s core value system of ModiNomics that got the better of all economic talent or the lack of it in the government.
At the Department of Economic Affairs, it was Shaktikanta Das, who managed to keep things under control. Now as Governor, RBI, he is very clear that his job is the most important for the poor of India. While a lot of past damage is being undone, specifically vis-à-vis the tunnelled vision of monetary policy, esoteric ideas like Payments Bank and throwing technology at people problems remain to be addressed.
"Country will now have only two castes - the poor and those who want to alleviate poverty"
14 August 2014 – the eve of the maiden Independence Day speech of Modi Ji, I was on a national TV discussion with the regular twitterati. Serious points of views on what Modi Ji will wear and what his body language will be like were being discussed. To everyone’s discomfort, I chipped in by saying this is an irrelevant discussion. The thing closest to Modi Ji’s heart is the poor of India and he will make significant announcements on Financial Inclusion. From the ramparts of Red Fort, Prime Minister Modi announced Jan Dhan Yojana that resulted in ending decades of financial exclusion.
My book “Defeating Poverty - Jan Dhan and Beyond” released in September 2014 spelt out Modi Ji’s thinking on how to defeat poverty and made actionable and implementable suggestions on crop insurance, MSME credit, Skill Development, micro-pensions, digital payments and a host of other areas that were implemented as ModiNomics moved forward.
My third book in the ModiNomics series was “Modi’s Odyssey: Digital India, Developed India.” Based on his thinking and the Gujarat model, some of the most eminent domain experts wrote in this edited volume on areas as diverse as digital cash, transformative governance, cyber security and electronic manufacturing. Most of the recommendations from the book have been adopted and are in varying degrees of implementation. Modi Ji’s dream of a Digital India has been realised to a large extent.
In an editorial written to mark two years of Modi Government in June 2016, I wrote, “Whether it is coal block auction, levying of anti-dumping duty on steel, augmenting production capacity of steel, availability of sufficient quantity of coal for power plants, straight through processing of files, empowering the lower rungs of officers to take decisions or upping the investments in infrastructure on the one hand or providing social security, banking access to all, improving the credit linkages, making LPG available to one crore households at the common man level on the other, the list of ‘firsts’ is huge.”
SKOCH Award Winning Initiatives of Modi Government 2014-19
By third quarter of 2017, Modi Government was under attack for not having created any new jobs. Even economists and statisticians were at a loss on how to quickly measure the impact of schemes like Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY). It was my maiden research done in partnership with leading banks that found that 1.7 crore new jobs have been created during the first two years of MUDRA Yojana alone. This report remains uncontested by anyone and its data has been referred to by the government for Parliamentary replies. Modi Ji himself tweeted the findings of this report.
While the marketing managers and the economists on both sides of the political divide may have forgotten all this, the people of India did not. Even today, those who give credit for his win only to Balakot and nationalism, forget how sensible the poor of India can be when they vote. India voted trust!
My recent edited work, “India 2030 - A Socio-Economic Paradigm” lays down the vision of India becoming a $10 trillion economy by 2030 through a number of sector specific expert papers recommending what needs to be done. While almost everyone is bullish on the fact that this can be done, Modi Ji will first have to address the short-term macroeconomic challenges that may impede the achievement of this goal.
The challenges are: finding the money to fulfil social aspirations of the people; increasing capital formation; spurring investments in infrastructure and manufacturing; giving better access to cash-credit and markets to MSMEs; creating a job generative growth; de-stressing agriculture; financial deepening; and, addressing the disruptive technology and cyber security challenges.
We have formed Task Forces in most of these areas and are organising a series of conferences with the sole objective of continuing to provide policy inputs based on the principles of ModiNomics.
Let the last woman in the queue win too!
Author of ModiNomics, Defeating Poverty and Reforms Historian
firstname.lastname@example.org |Twitter @skochsameer
(Sameer Kochhar can be reached at email@example.com)
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